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  • 2014 Comstock Read Aloud Honor Books

    Becoming Babe Ruth written and illustrated by Matt Tavares and published by Candlewick, 2013.

    Becoming Babe Ruth

    Tomato-stealer, inmate, rule-breaker—not necessarily words that immediately come to mind when we think of Babe Ruth. Indeed, Babe Ruth's meteoric rise in baseball came from humble beginnings. In the first part of the 20th century, Babe was indeed a troublemaker and his parents were at their wits' ends. Although not truly an orphan, Babe found himself in a children's home with little to look forward too. Nevertheless, it was at Saint Mary's, this children's home, where Babe met Brother Matthias and was introduced to his destiny:  baseball.

    The watercolor and pencil illustrations combined with the baseball stats sheets had students commenting on how real and engaging the illustrations were – truly adding to the story.

    Matt Tavares has a true gift for humanizing our heroes making us love them even more. As he did in There Goes Ted Williams, Tavares shares some less then savory truths about Babe Ruth. Children ages eight through twelve were fascinated to learn pieces of information about Babe that they had not been exposed to before. Children immediately concluded that a rough start does not necessarily mean a bad end and that one person (Brother Matthias) can make a difference in a young person's life.

    From Boston, Matt Tavares is the author and illustrator of several books and illustrator only of several more. Tavares' books frequently earn starred reviews in various publications including School Library Journal, Booklist, and The Horn Book.  His books have also garnered numerous awards including the Oppenheim Gold Seal, the Orbis Pictus Award, and the Parents' Choice Gold Award. HEATHER MANEIRO



    Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears written by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff and illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen and published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2013.

    Jaspers Story

    Moon bears are named for the crescent-shaped cream-colored marks on their chests. This emotionally-charged true story describes the rescue of these moon bears after long periods of confinement. Moon bears are taken from the wild and caged in farms so their bile can be extracted and used in traditional Asian medicines. Jasper is a moon bear that had been confined for 15 years in a small metal cage and subjected to this cruel practice. Jasper is rescued from captivity and cared for by the Animals Asia Rescue Group. He is returned to full health and begins his new life in the Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu, China.

    In the sanctuary, Jasper befriends each new bear as it arrives and he serves as a guide and mentor. Everyone who reads Jasper's Story will be touched by the lessons of healing, forgiveness, kindness, and love. One class of fourth graders responded to this story by each writing individual statements of support for the book.

    Co-authors, Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff, have drawn attention to the plight of the moon bears in China by creating this provocative and heart-warming story. The acrylic illustrations rendered by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen capture the beauty and strength of the moon bears. The close-up images of Jasper and the other bears thoughtfully convey their agony and then their serenity as they adjust to life in the sanctuary. PAM WERRE